Tuesday, January 6, 2015

String Family Tech Hunt

My students are headed to the symphony after Spring Break so we are focusing in on the four families of the orchestra. We have covered facts and characteristics here and there over the years, but I definitely want to do a little more in-depth study before we get on that bus!

I'm very excited to integrate more technology into this year's orchestra study. To just tiptoe into the string family, I used a recording of a string piece with something familiar (the voice), yet a bit deceiving (the voice). I know....that sounds a bit strange, but if you know the piece, you'll know what I mean. I chose Bobby McFerrin and Yo-Yo Ma's recording of J.S. Bach's Musette.

I love this recording because the cello is just beautiful and it's just a fun, playful short piece. The vocals can be a bit distracting (whose voice is that anyway?! they all ask), but I do ask the kids ahead of time to be sure to listen carefully to all the sounds because there will be quiz about what they heard.

This takes us into a Plickers quiz. If you've never used Plickers, download those little code cards and print them now (or splurge on a set from Amazon.com like I did!). It is such a great app! All you need is one device and you can give quizzes with immediate feedback and recorded answers! (Here's the actual quiz that I gave, if you're interested in seeing or using it.)

Once that Plickers quiz was done (which I assured them was just a "see what we know" type deal; not a major test grade! though I do look forward to comparing their knowledge after we study our instruments a lot more in-depth), we split up into groups to start our tech hunt. Each group received a clipboard with their scavenger list of questions and a device. I had several QR codes taped up around the room, plus three permanent stations set up. The QRs were repeated just in case the groups were crowding around a certain one. The list is as follows:

  • QR leading to information about pizzicato technique (text only)
  • QR leading to a Thinglink about string quartets
  • QR leading to a string instrument labeled with Skitch (major parts labeled)
  • QR leading to information about how many strings in a harp (text only)
  • QR leading to information about bows and the type of hair used to make them
  • my personal Macbook in guest mode (yes, I'm brave!) with Artopia.com set up to listen and compare the four main instruments of the string family; they can do the matching game as well (if time)
  • iPad mini with MSOLearn app to view interactive orchestra seating chart information
  • teacher computer set up with a headphone splitter set to this YouTube video so one group at a time can view a short video about the string family which also introduces the harp

Edited to include Google Doc with QR codes <here>. I added labels to show which QR was which, but I don't have labels for the kids....that way it is a surprise when they open the QR, of course!

I wish I had some pictures of the kids working on their hunt....but every device I have was being used! These days I don't have a separate camera that I keep handy in my classroom.

In case you're wondering, I don't have a class set of iPads! (I wish!) I borrowed a couple from the 4th grade teachers (since they are planning, they aren't using them for teaching), used my class iPad and used a couple of my own personal devices. Unfortunately, that meant that the groups had to be slightly larger than I would have liked (4-5) but it worked out fine. The kids worked well together overall. The tech hunt will continue for 1-1.5 more lessons or so until they get the questions answered.

After this, we'll certainly explore some more string repertoire....what are your favorite recordings? Any great suggestions? Leave me a comment!! Also, any other suggestions or ideas to incorporate some more technology in my tech hunt? I'd love some feedback!

1 comment :

  1. Wow, what fun to be a kid in YOUR music class! I love all your ideas. Keep 'em coming!